Friday, August 18, 2017

Legitimate publishers need to fight back to the online menace of ad fraud that is out of control. While we are faced with an overreaction legislation with the CASL act that prevents companies from doing business our federal and provincial governments is taking a blind eye to all ad fraud that is more of a problem than spammers. (Note: The email industry polices itself with the higherst ethical standards btw).This report by Dr. Augustine Fou, an independent Ad Fraud Researcher (see bio below) suggests that ad networks and open exchanges is just a front for the ad fraudster to bilk advertisers for their marketing dollars and the ad tech companies are skimming 40% off the top of ad budgets. I guess our politicians are in over their head when it comes to this issue.



It was found that on good publishers websites 75% were real people and 2% bots, on ad networks it was 17% and 30%, and on open exchanges it was 3% and 72%. The lure of cheap advertising in an auction format by the ad networks and open exchanges can be delivered as they do not reach real people and so the costs are lower as they do not have to pay writers for the content. What a large scale scam that is being done on the ad and media industry. I guess the old saying you pay for what you get is very true in programmatic buying networks. 


The latest sales report from Procter and Gamble suggest this is true that when they cut out digital in their media plan sales went up by 2%. P&G was the first major advertiser to call out the industry for their questionable or even criminal business practices.


JP Morgan Chase also saw this when they took their programmatic buying in-house when they compared the results of advertising on 400,000 websites per month and then cut back to 5,000, there was no difference in the campaign’s results. The conclusion was that they were not reaching real people when they were advertising on the 400,000 sites (only 12,000 had positive results btw out of the 400,000).


It is time we remind advertisers that digital is not what it claimed to be by the ad tech community. Unfortunately the simple fact the people are reading more on their smartphones does not mean this will be the holy grail to product sales success by advertising in a mobile ad network. According to the report 43% of traffic is fraudulent.


Unfortunately this confidence scam has become reality for some marketers and Facebook flooding the market with a $2 CPM is putting legitimate news publishers like the National Post, Toronto Star and Globe and Mail at a huge cost disadvantage in the marketplace that has cause these organizations to lay off staff. The problem is ad fraud is hard to detect according to the report.

To keep it simple ad networks should be banned from all media plans (that includes Facebook and Google), I have done this with my media buying clients and only buy direct from credible brands, even though they have higher CPMs in the $15-$20 range at least I know I am getting real people, ok in this case 75%. But my buys rely heavily on traditional like radio and I have noticed increased demand for magazines in print and digital with my publishing clients versus web display.

So all you legitimate publishers out there share this artcile with your ad clients and ad agencies to show how they have been scammed. I will be doing this also with my network.

The full report is available at this link on Dr Fou's Linkedin site

This opinion was written by Martin Seto



About the researcher: Dr. Augustine Fou is an industry-recognized thought leader in digital strategy and integrated marketing, and former Chief Digital Officer of Omnicom's Healthcare Consultancy Group, a $100 million agency group serving pharma, medical device, and healthcare clients. Dr. Fou has over 20 years of management consulting experience and hands-on experience in creating and optimizing marketing across traditional and digital channels. Dr. Fou teaches digital and integrated marketing at Rutgers University and NYU. Dr. Fou completed his PhD at MIT in Materials Science and Engineering at the age of 23. He started his career with McKinsey & Company and previously served as SVP, digital ..



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The report of the Standing Committee by Canadian Heritage -  Disruption: Change and Churning in Canada’s Media Landscape has been released for the government to review on how they can help the industry deal with the digital disruptions to their business model. This comprehensive document is tackling some tough issues that face the media industry like local news, media concentration, broadband access, tax incentives, new taxes, grants and the support of community news/multicultural media.


This document is a good close look at the history and issues and supports additional government intervention to support the media industry. The expected outcome of this document is to look at ways to sustain an independent media industry as a key player in a properly functioning democratic society through a healthy journalism sector. The political goal is to find an even playing field for all stakeholders, as the highest share of the industry ad revenues are going to digital distributors like Google and Facebook and less to content creators and thus is not sustainable over the long-term. 


As expected the report is reflective of liberal policies of government intervention, while the dissenting voice of the conservatives that was included in the report favour a more laissez-faire approach i.e. the survival of the fittest. The report has 20 recommendations and one was a sales tax on on the internet that was quickly shot down by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.


Even with government support the media ecosystem is oversaturated (digital oversupply) in Canada for a market of 35 million people and future consolidation is inevitable as digital convergence of media continues in all sectors. The current digital ad market is in an oligopoly state as Google and Facebook control 65% of industry revenues accorded to this report and government intervention/regulation is required when the free markets are in this stage to ensure fair competition.



• There are 1,162 newspapers in Canada 102 dailies and 1060 community newspapers. In 2011 there were 122 dailies and 1042 community. ( Must be all those store flyers we are getting that support the community news sector)


• The magazine sector has seen a 30% increase in the number of titles since 2000 with over 2,000 titles according to Magazine Canada. (Masthead Prediction: This sector will see consolidation and will eventually see digital convergence with the radio sector over the long-term.)


• There are 680 television services with 85 television station of which 65 are owned by 5 companies (Bell, Shaw, Rogers, Quebecor and Renstar) with 20 independent. Television is still #1 when it comes to advertisers


• There are 1,120 radio and audio services with 594 FM and 129 AM stations. Radio has been identified  as the sector least affected by the digital disruption due to its emphasis on local content

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

BookNet Canada a non-profit organization that develops technology, standards, and education to serve the Canadian book industry just released this great Infographic of the State of Digital Publishing in the Book industry.. 


The State of Digital Publishing in Canada reports are now in their fourth year. Each year they look at the size, scope, and production processes of the digital publishing market in Canada. The 2016 report can be downloaded at this link 


Here are some highlights of the 2016 report. 

  • 37% of publishers produce digital audiobooks
  • 56% of publishers have more than 1/2 of their titles digitized
  • 52% of publishers have over 1/2 of their juvenile titles digitized
  • 67% of publishers are including accessibility features in their ebooks
  • When do publishers release ebooks for new titles?
  • 5% do so before the print version
  • 68% do so simultaneously with the print version
  • 27% do so after the print version
  • What are publishers' reasons for creating ebooks?
  • 80% hope to increase sales
  • 73% want to meet accessibility needs
  • 73% are satisfying consumer demand




Ebook sales vs. print in Canada


As true this year as it was last year, people are still talking about print book sales being up at the expense of ebooks. The stories this year have tended to focus less on the increased pricing of ebooks, as was the case last year, and more on readers rediscovering the tactile experience of print books and digital fatigue.


While it is true that the number of available ebooks with sales continues to decline — from a high of 88% in 2014 to just 54% in 2016 — some of this might be due to the growing number of digitized backlist titles. It might also be caused in part by a 2.1% decline in ebook sales from 2015 to 2016, according to consumer surveying.


However, while the number of ebooks without sales went up, so too did revenue for 61% of reporting firms: 25% of them experienced a digital revenue increase of more than 25% over the previous year.


Audiobooks in Canada


While the print versus digital debate continues, what has become clear is that audiobooks are having their moment. In 2016, 37% of the publishers we surveyed were producing digital audiobooks, which is a large jump from 16% in 2015. And those firms have anywhere from zero to 7,000 active audiobook titles.


Ainsley Sparkes
Booknet Cannada,Research & Analysis


Friday, June 02, 2017

The use of Facebook Live is a tool that publishers are using for events as a live video broadcast.  Here is a press release for this Facebook Live Event that will be held on Monday June 5 at 10am. that will broadcast an editorial brainstorming meeting.


For fashion publishers, the September issue has become a thing of legend. Traditionally one of the most anticipated issues of the year, it signals not only a change in season and trends, but serves as an essential—and inspirational —shopping guide.

For the first time ever, ELLE Canada is inviting readers to join its editorial team for their September 2017 issue editorial brainstorm meeting. ELLE Canada will take over the Facebook Canada office on Monday, June 5th at 10am ET for a Facebook Live broadcast that gives readers an inside look at how one of the most coveted issues of the year is developed.


“Our connection to our readers is so valuable to us that we wanted to invite them to share in our creative process,” says Vanessa Craft, Editor in Chief of ELLE Canada. “Opening this up to the world via Facebook Live was an easy decision, especially with the opportunity to host it directly from their Toronto HQ – it brings an added element of inspiration for the team to be working in such a creative and innovative space.” 


The ELLE Canada team of experts will look at the most exciting trends and news in fashion, beauty and culture, as seen by its editors at international fashion weeks and exclusive previews. The team will be talking about the things they are most excited about for fall 2017, and readers will get a behind-the-scenes look at how ELLE determines what does (and doesn't) make it into this issue. ELLE Canada readers are invited to comment live as the brainstorm takes place. “We’re looking forward to discovering which of the topics we discuss really resonates with them – and what they want to hear more about,” adds Craft.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Headline Coffee, the new subscription-based, coffee-delivery service offered by the Toronto Star, is built like a good newspaper: 


• We deliver a different coffee every month as a part of a curated and exploratory global journey, just as stories and photos are brought into the homes of our readers, providing them with interesting and relevant local and global news.


• We tell the story behind the coffee, investigating its source, growing and processing methods, and the people behind it all.


• Our product is ethically sourced because we not only want to ship the best product, we want it to be done fairly for the producers and safely for the environment.


• We reach our audience through both print and digital because research tells us our readers are serious coffee drinkers.


• We have a trusted relationship with readers and ready-made marketing channels to reach them.

At the Toronto Star, Headline Coffee is one of many initiatives in the search for new revenue. Each opportunity is assessed on its own merits, but those worthy of further exploration:


1. Solve a problem for customers.

2. Effectively leverage our core competencies: Brand power and trust; large audience, strong media; delivery expertise; and subscription management.

3. Are not advertising or content-based revenue.

4. Represent opportunity of significant size.

5. Complement the core business, rather than disrupting or cannibalizing.

A coffee-subscription service was identified while investigating reader behaviour, habits, and trends. We were looking for activities and preferences that distinguished our readers from the general population. At the highest level, we found 70% of 7. Toronto Star readers consumed coffee in the morning while they read their newspaper.


Percolating interest: Reader awareness of the newspaper’s coffee-delivery sideline, Headline Coffee, has grown an average of 32% during the first three month since its launch.


We then used our reader panels and subscriber surveys to determine more specific coffee-consuming preferences and habits: consumption volume; whole bean vs. ground; roasting preferences, price tolerance, etc. This research led to the conclusion that a significant business opportunity existed.


Alternative business models for the creation of the subscription service were then evaluated:

1. Third-party partnership: revenue share as a media partner promoting and endorsing another service.


2. White label: present the offering as one from the Toronto Star, but have it managed by a vendor.


3. Build and manage internally: select vendors to provide products and service, but manage the execution to maintain control.


Ultimately we decided to build and manage internally, creating a brand that would resonate with readers and to achieve target profit margins.


Implementation was a matter of vendor searching, vetting, negotiating, and selecting. Our volume projections from earlier in the process assisted in bringing initial quotes down to target cost levels.


Once the operational requirements were established, we focused on creating an impactful launch plan and engaged an external marketing agency to help spearhead the effort. We leveraged our full range of media properties to maximize message dissemination. We relied heavily on print promotion, knowing these readers had the strongest connection to the Toronto Star brand.


During the first few months, messaging focused on: introducing the brand, explaining the benefits and features, exploring the lifestyle of Headline Coffee, and holiday gift giving.


One month after its launch, Headline Coffee attained reader awareness of 20%, and during the first three months, an average growth rate of 32%.


Moving forward, Headline Coffee is experimenting with new print ad campaigns, creative, and social messaging that will propel it to the next level of growth.




Eric Fleming

Eric Fleming is senior innovation strategist for the Toronto Star, based in Toronto, Ontario. He can be reached at

About Me
Industry Guest Blogger
This guest blog is for an exchange of stories from members of the publishing industry be it a magazine, newsapaper or digital only publisher to help foster change and innovation in the digital age. These stories will inspire the industry with ideas to help the industry prosper and keep it relevant with readers and advertisers. If you will like to contribute your story contact Martin Seto 416-907-6562 or
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